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Baldwin, M. W. (ed.) / The first hundred years

XVIII: The Rise of Saladin, 1169-1189,   pp. 562-589 PDF (10.8 MB)

Page 584

fronts. The Moslems in Syria and Egypt were well aware of the large place
that the trading interests of the Italian republics represented in the maintenance
of the Latin states, and of the rivalries among Pisa, Genoa, and Venice.
From the beginning of his government Saladin made efforts to attract their
trade to Egypt, which would have the double advantage of increasing his own
resources and diminishing the value of the Syrian trade, especially in view
of his control of the Red Sea. The earliest treaty which has so far been
attested was one with Pisa in 1173, and its utility was demonstrated in the
following year, when the Pisans and other European merchants assisted the
Egyptian forces against the Sicilians at Alexandria. Saladin's own letter
to Baghdad on this occasion affirms the existence of treaties with Genoa
and Venice as well: "There is not one of them but supplies our land with
its materials of war..., and treaties of peaceful intercourse have been negotiated
with them all." Three years later, a letter from al-Qa~i al-FaçIil
to Saladin refers in passing to "the envoys of the different peoples" in
Cairo, and there can be no doubt that this trade greatly assisted the reconstruction
of the Egyptian fleet. 
 Still more effective for Saladin's purpose were the diplomatic negotiations
with Constantinople. The efforts of the Greeks to persuade the Latins in
Syria to cooperate in attacks on Egypt constituted a standing threat to its
security. At the same time, it was difficult to reach agreement with them
without turning the Selchükids of Anatolia against him. The disaster
inflicted on Manuel's army by Kilij Arslan at Myriokephalon in 1176, however,
ended for a time direct hostilities between them, and on Manuel's death in
I i 8o his successors took the initiative in opening relations with Saladin,
which were affirmed by treaty in I 181. The growing hostility between Greeks
and Latins increased the utility and frequency of these relations, which
were maintained between Saladin and both Isaac Angelus at Constantinople
and Isaac Comnenus in Cyprus. Such terms of friendship with the traditional
foes of Islam were no doubt sufficiently justified in Saladin's eyes by their
immediate advantage, but they gave him the further satisfaction of restoring,
if only temporarily, the old institution of Moslem worship at Constantinople
in the name of the cAbbãsid caliph. 
 By the end of I 186 everything was organized and ready for the signal. But
Saladin was still bound by the terms of the treaty of 1185 and had to wait
until he was furnished with a casus belli. A promising opening had been offered
by the conflict between Ray- 

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